Spanky Davis - Trumpet

Spanky Davis, the swinging trumpeter who was hand-picked by the great Roy Eldridge to replace him at Jimmy Ryan's in 1980, currently appears with his own quartet on the New York City jazz club and concert scene, as well as with the Jimmy Ryan Alll-Stars, the six-piece house band with which he performed at the famous night spot.

Spanky's burnished trumpet sound can be heard on recordings with Ruth Brown and as a featured soloist with the big bands of Buck Clayton and Walt

Levinsky. He can also be seen in the Woody Allen film, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and in the documentary film, Machito, A Latin Legacy .

Besides working with Eldridge, Gerry mulligan, Machito and Sam Jones, he

has performed with Frank Sinatra, Annie Ross, Benny Goodman, Buddy Tate,

Al Cohn, Tito Puente, Panama Francis, Bob Haggart and Arvell Shaw's Louis armstrong Legacy. Spanky plays regularly at international jazz festivals

in Edinburgh , Toronto , Nice, The Hague , Berne , Belfast and elsewhere.

He first met Roy Eldridge in Chicago in 1978. "We were both playing at the funeral of a mutual friend," Spanky recalls. " Roy told me 'when you get to New York,  come down to Jimmy Ryan's and bring your horn, because I need a sub for when I take off and I think you'd work out nice'."

When Spanky took his considerable weight to New York to study with Jimmy Maxwell, one night he walked into Jimmy Ryan's on West 54th Street to hear Eldridge, who had been a fixture at the club since 1970. As promised, Spanky began subbing for Roy but he also began working with Mel Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, Sam Jones, Machito and others. One day the owner of Jimmy Ryan's called and told him Roy had suffered a heart attack and asked Spanky, "could you come in to play?"On doctor's orders} Roy had to give up the horn and Spanky became the central, electrifying figure of the sextet --often bright and big-toned, sometimes growly and gutteral.

Spanky was born Ronald J. Davis and grew up in Fort Wayne , Indiana , where he started playing the trumpet at age 7. He began playing professionally when he was 15 and, when he finished high school, went on the road with territory bands. It was during that period that Ronald became Spanky. "I was working at Roseland with a band from Chicago . At that time I had my hair cut really short, with bangs across the front. The drummer in the band said one night 'Hey, you look like Spanky from the movies.' You know, Spanky from Our Gang and the name stuck."